A Look At South African Airways’ New Business Class

Filed Under: South African Airways

As I wrote about in September, struggling South African Airways is in the process of taking delivery of five A330-300 aircraft. That’s a bit of a puzzling move, as their longhaul fleet is becoming even less consistent, as they’ll have A340-300s, A340-600s, A330-200s, and A330-300s. No wonder they have so many last minute aircraft swaps.

From a passenger experience standpoint, what’s perhaps most intriguing about these new A330-300s is that they feature an updated business class product, which is long overdue for the airline.

Currently SAA has fully flat seats on their A340s, while they have angled seats on their A330s (though at least the angle isn’t as bad as on some other airlines).

South-African-A330-Business-Class - 1

However, as I wrote about in September, SAA’s new A330-300 aircraft will feature a new business class product altogether, in a 1-2-1 configuration. We weren’t sure what type of seats they’d have, though.


Well, SAA has just taken delivery of their first A330-300 aircraft, and they just posted a picture to their Facebook page of the pilots on the plane’s delivery flight. Fortunately SAA had them take a picture in front of the business class seats, which look very nice. SAA seems to have gone with the Vantage XL business class seat on the A330, which is the same product you’ll find on airlines like SAS.


This is a very nice private, fully flat product, so it’s a great choice for South African Airways. It’s just a shame that the A330-300 has limited range, so you won’t see this flying nonstop to/from the U.S. anytime soon. Instead they’ll be offering their best business class product on flights around Africa.

However, rumor has it that SAA will eventually configure their A340-600 aircraft with this new business class product as well. This hasn’t been officially confirmed, though.

This makes SAA the second airline in Africa to have the Vantage XL seats, after RwandAir.

(Tip of the hat to Jimmy)

  1. Super happy to see them updating their seats, as the old ones really left a lot to be desired. These new seats look great and the colour scheme is the same as they have on their A320s. Now if only they could roll it out quickly on other planes as I’d be happy to fly that to the motherland.

  2. Is that actually better than the current offering? I find their seats to be pretty wide and spacious as is. I guess it offers all aisle access but other than that. Any deal done with SAA has the suspicion of kickbacks and corruption…

  3. Yeah more obscure African Airlines please. I think they are generally quite safe these days. Award space to JNB is actually pretty easy to come by, I’m even seeing some Swiss business class ZRH-JNB. I also recommend a Safari, it’s quite fun flying in and out of JNB on a single prop aircraft… you only need to do like 2 nights so the expense is not ridiculous.

  4. @Nick

    Is SAA really “obscure”? It is definitely one of the better known airlines of Africa, especially as they are *alliance.

  5. It’s great that they’re catching up with their hard product, but until their soft product improves, I’m sticking with BA as much as I can for travel within southern Africa. It always costs a bit more, but the experience is always better.

  6. @Alpha

    I was scratching my head thinking “I see a mix of 330s and 340s at Dulles every week…” so thanks for posting, as I thought I was losing my mind…

  7. Lucky, per RwanAir website they’re starting flights to New York in 2017. Hope to see it on the list of business class you want to fly in 2017!

  8. The Range on the A330-300 is about 10,500-11,000Km
    SAA’s Europpean routes are between 8,000-9,0000Km.

    My guess is they’ll be using their best product for their European routes.
    Or their African routes, as that’s where the most profit is made.

  9. “It’s just a shame that the A330-300 has limited range, so you won’t see this flying nonstop to/from the U.S. anytime soon. Instead they’ll be offering their best business class product on flights around Africa.”

    Not limited to intra-Africa flights at all. In addition to the IAD trip that @Alpha notes, the A330-300 is schedule for GRU-JNB next year as well.

  10. Just flew the new plane on LOS-JNB – great experience overall and indeed is the Vantage configuration. I sat in 7K and was able to watch the service well – the FA from the second Biz Cabin serves up to rows 8 and 7 in the front cabin – so service was a bit slow.

    Overall the seat and IFE was great and had a “new” smell to it. However, the old SA business class is quite worn, but very very spacious and great for a long trip if you are travelling as a couple. This new configuration is very sexy, but probably best for travelling alone because otherwise would be a bit cramped. I flew IAD-ACC two weeks ago in the old Biz with an 8 week old baby and loved the space! Not sure I could do that as easily on this plane.

    Also worth pointing out that the crew is super proud to be in this new bird – that on its own creates a very warm and passionate soft product that I feel was superior to those I had in the past.

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *